Leeds United’s planned takeover by 49ers Enterprises – the investment arm of the San Francisco 49ers – is at risk of being massively affected should the West Yorkshire club face relegation from the Premier League this season.
That is according to The Athletic’s Phil Hay, who claims that the looming threat of relegation has “complicated” the current deal between the 49ers and current owner Andrea Radrizzani significantly.
As it stands, the American franchise has the option to buy out Radrizzani by January 2024 in a deal which would be worth around £500m. This is a drastic increase from the £11m former owner Massimo Cellino reportedly paid for a 75 per cent stake in a club worth approximately £14.5m in 2014.
The colossal difference between these two sums indicates just how much the club’s overall value has skyrocketed since the Whites’ promotion to the top-flight.
Naturally, if the worst case scenario were to unfold and Leeds dropped down to the Championship, this situation would be reversed. Leeds’ overall value would depreciate drastically, and the proposed selling figure of £500m would be massively reduced.
Hay confirmed this in a recent mail bag [3 March] for The Athletic:
“But relegation has complicated everything because put simply, the deal as it was originally proposed and at the level of price Radrizzani wants is contingent on Leeds staying up. With 14 games to go, that’s far from guaranteed.”
It isn’t all bad news for Whites supporters, however. According to Hay, the 49ers takeover would probably happen regardless, just with a different deal in place.
“There is, seemingly, a good chance that it would want to purchase the club even if Leeds went down.
“But those circumstances would require a different deal at a different price and at the stage when we published this article in January, there was no fixed agreement in place between Radrizzani and 49ers Enterprises about exactly what happens in those circumstances.”
So while this might see Radrizzani out of pocket, it would see Leeds’ spending power in the Championship increase significantly. You’d hope that this improved financial clout would play a critical role in seeing the Whites enjoy a swift return to the Premier League.
Leeds face rivals Chelsea on Saturday seeking a positive result to pull them further away from relegation trouble.